Do you know what I discovered this week? Something all-encompassing and creepy this way comes! But before I go into detail, I need to tell you about the new leaf that I’ve turned over in retirement. It is a personal growth triumph. No longer am I the anal, A-type, project driven, perfectionist of my youth. I am living one day at a time—stopping to smell the roses—bending down to pick the daisies, even if I can’t get up again. I don’t worry about tomorrow—I live for today. If I do say so myself, I am killing this “mindfulness” thing in my old age! Every morning, I repeat this mantra from an article on “Mindfulness” from Psychology Today:
I, Eleanor Tomczyk, recognize that “Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present. When you’re mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience.”
Yeah, Baby! I AM LIVING LARGE AND IN THE MOMENT. So on November 4th, two days after the state-wide elections and four days after Halloween, I was in my car singing a song of the moment in my best Nat King Cole voice (“The falling leaves drift by the window, the autumn leaves of red and gold…ba-ba-ba-baaaaa”), when I turned on my radio to stream in other Autumnal tunes and almost ran off the road. From my pimped-out mini-van, 16-speaker-stereo, my local radio station ripped my tranquility to kingdom come when the Randy Brooks song from Hell screeched from every orifice of my vehicle:
“GRANDMA GOT RUN OVER BY A REINDEER/WALKING HOME FROM OUR HOUSE, CHRISTMAS EVE/YOU CAN SAY THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS SANTA/BUT AS FOR ME AND GRANDPA, WE BELIEVE…”
Cartoon Used by Permission: Rick McKee, The Augusta Chronicle/Cagle Cartoons
“NOOOOOOOOOO,” I screamed in horror! “What the hell is going on? I still have 6,764 candy bars that I never managed to disperse on Halloween—which I’m in danger of going into a diabetic shock over if I don’t get rid of soon—and you’re trying to tell me that Santa Claus has been sighted running over grandmothers already! The leaves have not yet all fallen from the trees.” At that very moment, a DJ broke into the tail-end of the song to let the listening audience know that he and his cohorts would be playing Christmas music 24/7 until December 25th. “Merry Christmas y’all, and you’re welcome!”
Cartoon Used by Permission: Bob Englehart, The Hartford Courant/Cagle Cartoons
As I checked out the windows of all the stores in my area, they all sported some type of Christmas sale advertisements or giant Christmas trees in front of their buildings (Trader Joes, you know who you are). When I slowed to a crawl in front of Michaels, there were scores of women rushing out of the craft store as if glue guns and Christmas wreaths were being given away for free. Each woman carried an average of four giant bags which overflowed with Christmas crap and one women had two artificial Christmas trees—one under each arm. All the women already looked like they were stressed to the hilt and wouldn’t hesitate to cut a bitch if she got in the way of their 25% off Christmas accoutrement and their car.
Just like that—all my inner peace was gone. Forget autumn leaves, screw Thanksgiving—what was going to happen to my ability to replenish my Christmas crap (all the old stuff got thrown out when we moved) if I waited until after Thanksgiving as previously planned? There would be nothing left to buy because Christmas had started on the fourth of November, and all these Mad Hatter grandmothers where buying up all the good shit. But if I got caught up in this holiday creep, I’d be selling my soul and my mindfulness—my newfound Zen state of living in the moment—all of it would be flushed down the toilet. I needed help—someone who could put a stop to this madness. I pulled my car over right then and there and dialed: 1-800-IdamanSC.
ME: Hello? Is this the headquarters of Santa Claus? May I speak to him please? This is the blogger, ET. He’ll take my call—he owes me.
After sitting on hold for what seemed like an eternity marked by sixteen iterations of the Christmas ditty, “Here Comes Santa Claus” in the background, the man himself came on the line.
SC: Well, as I live and breathe, it’s that little rascal, ET. Have you been behaving yourself? If I remember correctly, “naughty” was more your MO than “nice.”
ME: Don’t mess with me old man. You know I ain’t never believed in you, and you know why.
SC: I’ve told you over and over why I never made it to your neighborhood when you were a tot. Those were different times back then, and I’ve been trying to make it up to you ever since. Even Santa Inc. had some racist overtones in the 1950s, which I feel bad about now. I was blind, but now I see. Besides, don’t you live a damn fine life now?
ME: Nothing to do with you fat bastard. My good life has everything to do with the glory of the birth of the King who you’ve been trying to overshadow since Jump Street. Speaking of overshadowing: it ain’t enough that your commercialism has completely engulfed the true meaning of Christmas, but now you’re waging war on Halloween and Thanksgiving?
SC: It’s not me—I swear! The competition is fierce and the attention-span of you people is very short. My subsidiaries—the merchandizers—tell me that we need to start earlier and earlier in order to grab your attention so that they can get you into the stores to spend money. If they don’t make the shareholders more and more money, the jig is up for them. You know that. There’s talk that we may start blanketing the Western World with red and green sale signs as early as August next year.
Cartoon Used by Permission: Pat Bagley, Salt Lake Tribune/Cagle Cartoons
ME: Have you no shame? When did you get to be so callous? Oh wait a minute; you were always like that. No poor Black child ever saw your fat ass come down our chimney.
SC: Hey, now. Let’s not make this a race thing. In all fairness, I never slid down any poor kid’s chimney. Think about it. As to this new push on the Christmas creep, don’t put all the blame on me. Due to the fierce competition for the Benjamins, you Americans now have Mother’s Day creep and Fourth of July creep. Everybody’s doing it.
ME: So if everybody ran off the edge of a cliff with their reindeer in tow, you’d do the same?
SC: What I’m trying to say is if people didn’t buy the stuff—if you all ignored the manipulation of the advertisers and the merchandizers—and lived in the moment, they’d all have to go back to their board rooms with their tails between their legs, and I could do Christmas within the proper timeframe. Hell, I might even be able to push it way back to December 1st or the like. Wouldn’t that be something? But I’m just a victim of my times, Kiddo—just as I was in your day when White Santa never made it to the Black ghetto.
ME: You’re pathetic. I’ve always hoped you’d turn out to be so much more. I need you to fight the powers that be. If not, then who?
ME: Me? I’m only one voice raging against the machine—the God of Consumerism. If that “god” has its way, Christmas sales will start so far back, no one will be able to tell where Christmas actually begins and the sales end. We are doomed, I tell you—doomed to always living out of the moment in the “way too soon” timeframe!
Cartoon Used by Permission: David Fitzsimmons, The Arizona Star/Cagle Cartoons
THE AUTHOR’S “SELAH” (“AHA”) MOMENT ABOUT CHRISTMAS CREEP
I am discovering that I get why people other than merchandizers want to start the Christmas holidays sooner than later. Cynicism would claim it is all about the deal, but I think it is something deeper—much deeper. As winter rapidly approaches, reminding us all that death is inescapable, the imagined warmth and charm of the Christmas holidays seem to push back the melancholy of shortened days and cold, gloomy nights—in spirit and in body. I once knew a woman who was so into Christmas that she shopped for it all year round. She would place so many presents under the tree that the over-abundance gave the innocent observer opulence indigestion. One Christmas Eve, her youngest adult son tried to commit suicide right in front of his family, but his older brother—the woman’s first born—wrestled the knife out of his brother’s hand and stopped the horrid deed. On Christmas Day, with hundreds of Christmas packages overflowing from under the tree, up the stairs, and into the dining room, the morose family gathered for breakfast—all except for the mother. No one mentioned the attempted suicide and no one spoke of the stretch marks of pain that had coursed across the family Xmas psyche for years. Suddenly, bells were heard ringing from the stairwell like the grotesque chimes of a zombie chapel, and the Santa-clad mother—replete with white beard, red suit with a stuffed pillow for the belly, and fur-trimmed Santa hat, cried out: “MERRY CHRISTMAS MY WONDERFUL FAMILY—MERRY CHRISTMAS TO US ALL!”
It is easier to hide behind the image of the false feelings that Christmas represents and lose ourselves in the busyness of it all then it is to actually deal with the pain of winter within our borders that we call home as well as those warring global borders beyond. If a family has dealt with its issues all along the way—in the living moment of today—then Christmas will mean all the joy and love that we hope it to be. So in my new found spirit of “mindfulness,” let me encourage you all: let’s just get through Thanksgiving without killing each other, and maybe—just maybe—Christmas might be outstanding in its time.
Cartoon Used by Permission: Parker, Florida Today/Cagle Cartoons
INSPIRATIONAL QUOTES ON MINDFULNESS
“With mindfulness, you can establish yourself in the present in order to touch the wonders of life that are available in that moment.”—Nhat Hanh
“Mindfulness helps us freeze the frame so that we can become aware of our sensations and experiences as they are, without the distorting coloration of socially conditioned responses or habitual reactions.”—Henepola Gunaratana
“Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.”—Norman Vincent Peale
“Once again, we come to the Holiday Season, a deeply religious time that each of us observes, in his own way, by going to the mall of his choice.”—Dave Barry
QUOTES FROM www.goodreads.com
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